U.S. Annual Mobile Data Use Has Grown By More Than Double

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The American Wireless industry added more than 22 million new subscribers in its fold in 2015 compared to the previous year, said CTIA's annual Wireless Industry survey report for 2015. In the entire year, over 377 million mobile phone users consumed 9.65 trillion megabytes of mobile data, more than doubling their usage compared to 2014 figures. However, their overall talk time didn't increase by as much but the number of text messages sent reduced marginally. The results of the survey also revealed that overall revenue for wireless service providers increased by only $4 billion in the period.

Even though the penetration of wireless services stood at 110% in 2014, the number of wireless subscriptions continued to grow through 2015 and reached 115.7% by the end of the year. In contrast, the percentage of households with wireless-only services managed to grow from 47% to 48.3% despite the increasing penetration of broadband services in the same period. Even though the annual voice minutes (talk time) grew at the same rate as the number of wireless subscriptions, finishing at 240 billion minutes compared to 204 billion minutes in 2014, the cherry on top was wireless data consumption which more than doubled in just a year. Over 377 million subscribers used 9.65 trillion megabytes of data in 2015 and the average wireless data consumed per user stood at just over 25GB annually. Even though the total number of text messages went down from 1.92 trillion in 2014 to 1.89 trillion in 2015, the deployment shouldn't be too surprising thanks to the rise of a number of online messaging platforms. Due to the increased reach of wireless internet data, Americans sent out a total of 218.5 billion multimedia messages last year which signified a rise of nearly 44% compared to the year before.

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Despite such encouraging signs, the potential for the wireless industry to grow even further still exists given that carriers spent the same amount on capital investments as they did in 2014. Unless they ramp up their spending on infrastructure to increase the reach of their services further, the rise in overall subscriptions may stagnate over time. However, the huge rise in mobile data usage also means that carriers will have to get hold of a lot of additional spectrum if demand continues to rise in the same way. With 5G technologies just a few years away, the transition may get derailed if enough spectrum isn't made available to them by 2020. Recently, the CTIA initiated a 'Wireless Network Resiliency Cooperative Framework' which allowed all the major carriers to work together to fix network issues and outages during disasters and other situations, which would allow people to stay connected even in times of distress.